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‘Squeeze play’ on Machinists is reality elites failed to feel (Read More…)

NOVEMBER 21, 2013
BY DANNY WESTNEAT / THE SEATTLE TIMES

SEATTLE—There was a revealing moment the other night, after the resounding “no” vote from Boeing’s Machinists, when Gov. Jay Inslee was asked if he respected the decision they’d made.

“I respect reality,” he said. “And the reality is we could have won tonight. Some folks made a vote, about two to one, where that vote did not come out the way that would allow us to win. That’s a reality.”

Who is this “us”? Because the people who build the planes didn’t feel it included them.

I’m not trying to be overly flip here. This answer from Inslee — his implication that he didn’t respect the workers for their decision — goes a long way to explaining why the rank-and-file Machinists were so put off by this entire exercise that it ended in a debacle.

After the vote I talked to or corresponded with a dozen Machinists. As might be expected, they hold widely varying opinions on the contract they were just offered (some thought it OK, some hated it), on Boeing (some love the place, some don’t trust it) and on politics (most vote Democratic, a few said they’re more conservative or don’t care). All were exasperated at their dysfunctional union leadership, for “setting us up to fail,” as one said. And they were left feeling “disrespected” — not so much by Boeing as, surprisingly, Inslee, Sen. Patty Murray and the rest of the political class in the state.

‘Squeeze play’ on Machinists is reality elites failed to feel (Read More…)
“I never thought I’d see Jay Inslee and Patty Murray involved in a squeeze play on the middle class,” said one.

“It was like being kneecapped by someone you thought was your friend,” said another.

“I don’t know if they meant to, but they hung us out to dry,” said a third.

Notice I said above that this is how some Machinists “feel.” Feelings aren’t facts. Inslee and Murray have equally strong feelings that they were trying to secure jobs and economic growth for their state. Plus they may have been as misled by union leadership as the union was.

But here’s how this past week seemed choreographed to many: Boeing, you get $9 billion. Politicians, you get a “big win” to hail at news conferences. And workers, you get to cancel your pensions.

Deal?

Last Sunday I noted how the head of Boeing, Jim McNerney, is set to draw a pension that pays a quarter-million dollars per month. Gov. Inslee, Sen. Murray and the rest of the public officials extolling this deal also have nice, safe pensions. That’s fine, but they ought to know how grating it sounds when this same elite class finds it imperative that workers — and only the workers — should unwind their retirement security.

“I know change can be hard,” Boeing commercial jet president Ray Conner sympathized.

Especially when only one party to a deal is being asked to change!

People say the Machinists are blind to how good they have it.  Probably so.  But be honest: If your boss said to you, “Hey we’re making record profits, and paying ourselves phantasmagorical amounts, but to remain a going concern we must cut your retirement,” how would you react?

I would at least expect an explanation — a primer, say, on the forward-cost calculations of jetliner development. A number of Machinists told me they’d take a hit to their pensions if there was some sense of shared sacrifice from above. Instead, what they got was: Take this, now, or we’re outta here. All cheered on, implicitly, by Inslee, Murray and the other lifetime pensioners we have in public office.

In the elite class’ defense, workers usually do cave. There’s long been resignation about the race to the bottom.

But who knows, maybe the winds are shifting. In the past week the Boeing Machinists said “no,” SeaTac voters appeared to be raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour and Seattle elected its first socialist to the City Council, apparently ever.

We could still win this airplane. But it feels like business and political leaders, rather than lecturing about their version of reality, might acknowledge there’s a new one emerging, clamoring for some respect of its own.

Posted by Admin on 11/22 at 09:05 AM
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Competition to gain Boeing 777X work leads to Alabama meeting (Read More…)

By The Associated Press
November 20, 2013

HUNTSVILLE, ALA. — State and local leaders are working to lure a Boeing Co. aircraft assembly plant to the Huntsville area, which already has a heavy technological and engineering base.
Gov. Robert Bentley, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and economic developers met Tuesday in Birmingham with representatives of the aircraft manufacturer.

Battle said Huntsville is one of several cities being considered for a 777X assembly site, and Bentley said the company likes Alabama.

“They don’t need to look at any other state,” said Bentley. “Alabama is the state they need to look at most.”
Boeing said it would consider a new location to build the airplane after union members rejected a proposed contract in Seattle last week.

A gubernatorial aide in Washington state has said that state will likely get competition from places including Alabama, where unions have less of a foothold.

Boeing executives say a decision on a manufacturing location could come by early next year, and Battle said Huntsville could be a good choice since the city is an aeronautical hub and home to engineers who worked on other Boeing aircraft.

“We have some experience of what they are talking about doing. We have been in aeronautics forever and ever. We built the Space Station. Now we are looking at building an airplane,” said Battle.

Battle said it was unclear exactly how many jobs would be associated with the 777X project, but the economic effect would be similar to the last military base realignment that brought 4,800 high-paying Department of Defense jobs to the area.

MUBADALA EYES US FOR INVESTMENT

Meanwhile, the aerospace unit of Abu Dhabi investment fund Mubadala is targeting acquisitions in the United States to expand its manufacturing capabilities after securing billion-dollar contracts at the Dubai Airshow, it said on Wednesday.

Mubadala Aerospace won industrial orders worth over $5 billion at the air show this week to sell parts and materials to planemakers Boeing and Airbus.

The deals could provide a reciprocal boost to Gulf economies after their state-owned airlines placed blockbuster orders worth about $150 billion at the event.

Mubadala Aerospace, which already builds lightweight parts for Boeing and Airbus, plans to expand its manufacturing operations and also acquire other businesses.

“We have said before that we would put up to $500 million into building facilities and capabilities. Now, I think that number will have to go up,” said Homaid Al Shemmari, executive director of Mubadala Aerospace.

“We want to spend a good percentage of our capital outside the UAE. And I would go for the U.S. to begin with,” Shemmari said.
“I think an acquisition in the U.S. would probably be the best because the UAE currency is pegged to the dollar and that helps me reduce my risks. Also, labor relations in the U.S. are not as complicated as some other parts of the world,” he added.
The company aims to close a deal within the next three years, he said.

Mubadala Aerospace aims to be among the world’s top three manufacturers of composite and metal parts for airplanes by 2020.

 

Posted by Admin on 11/21 at 04:07 PM
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